USATF Renews CEO Search, release, note by Larry Eder

"USATF Renews CEO Search" was the title of the release. I had to smile when I saw the term,  "politically-charged" used in the description of what the CEO would endure. Think of the most politically savvy individuals in history: Machiavelli, Lorenzo Borgia, Otto von Bismark, Kofi Annan, all might find the politics in USATF a bit of a challenge.

The USATF is the Yugoslavia of sports federations. Our federation covers youth running,masters running, track & field, cross country and race walking. The federation has way too many constituencies. One must look far and wide to see a federation who handles so much in their sport infrastructure.

Stephanie Hightower is spot on when she notes that the athletes are doing their job, and now the board needs to do its job. In my opinion, leadership is 0-2 right now, in terms of finding an appropriate leader.

The search committee has 100 resumes on their list from the last search. They now know that they need someone deeply involved in track & field, someone,  who can also sell the sport. That takes it down to a handful. My question is, why didn't these questions get asked last time? 

It does not matter that different folks were involved in the Doug Logan imbroglio. Perception is reality as the Rolling Stone magazine ads noted a decade ago. New Leadership must have the support to develop a program over a decade or longer. Changing CEOs every one to three years is not a good practice.

The issue may be the following; the leader we need, someone with vision, who can communicate and who can sell the sport, someone who can close a deal, may not be the person who asks before he or she does something. Is the board going to slap the hand of the new CEO every time he or she closes a deal?

Those are questions really good candidates are going to ask. And those are questions that USATF's board should be able to answer.    

USATF's executive search committee has no room for mistakes. This time, they need to deliver.

March 26, 2012

Katie Landry
USA Track & Field
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
[email protected]

USATF Renews CEO Search

INDIANAPOLIS - USA Track & Field on Monday announced it has resumed its search for a new CEO, with a timeline geared toward selecting the federation's top executive prior to the 2012 Olympic Trials.

The search will be directed by the board of directors' CEO Search Committee, composed of Stephanie Hightower (chair), Steve Miller, Deena Kastor, Aretha Thurmond and Mickey Carter.  The search includes a new job description focusing on the core competencies and experience sought for the position.

USATF has in place nearly 100 candidate resumes and profiles from its 2011 CEO search. The committee is reviewing those candidates while also seeking additional executives who fulfill the qualities and experience listed in the job description, below.

Candidate interviews will begin next month. A new CEO is expected to be announced well in advance of the 2012 Olympic Trials, held June 22-July 1 in Eugene, Oregon.

"Our board of directors is committed to engaging a strong, visionary leader who combines success in the sports business marketplace with the political acumen, knowledge of our sport and people skills that are so essential to being successful in this position," Hightower said. "We have everything we need to conduct this search thoroughly and expediently. Our athletes have shown they are ready for the Olympic Trials and Olympic Games. We want to ensure that as an organization we are ready as well."

Position Summary                                  
Title:  Chief Executive Officer
Reports to: USATF Board of Directors
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

Ideal Candidate:
The ideal candidate is an accomplished executive/business leader with proven ability and success in growing revenue, managing a diverse staff of professionals and working productively with a strong, diverse board of directors. He/she will work effectively with the board of directors and across a complex, diverse and at times politically charged volunteer organization to accelerate the realization of the USATF vision and strategic plan.

It is vital that they are someone who is either in or has a long history with the sport of track and field who possesses true passion for the sport and has an intimate knowledge how the sport is organized and operates from the grassroots to the World Championships and Olympic games. It is a given that this person has deep experience in marketing, broadcasting and media/sponsorship sales; what sets them apart is their strengths in both disciplines and ability to deliver unprecedented results and elevate the USATF brand.

Candidate Specifications

Role and Responsibilities:
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and staff of USATF work to carry out the policies set forth by the organization's volunteer constituency and Board of Directors and administer the day-to-day duties of the organization. The CEO is the spokesperson and will lead all aspects of USATF with integrity and in accordance with the USATF 2009 Strategic Plan, and Board policies.

Core Competencies:
Innovative Marketing and Sales Professional. Savvy in marketing and building a business while being passionate about selling the sport to the fan base, sponsors and television. Knows how to leverage their own connections and the connections of others to open doors and drive revenue. Continuously developing new ways of "creating events and buzz" that will allow USATF to exceed sponsors' activation expectations and contribute to harnessing the growth of running, building the fan base and everyone's engagement in the sport at both the grassroots and professional level.

Supporter of Athletes and Volunteers. Knows that the USATF exists because of and for the athletes. Recognizes that the athletes and volunteers will embrace a leader who embraces them and understands their value and deals constructively with their idiosyncrasies with compassion.

Specific Responsibilities:

Strategy. In conjunction with the Board and other senior management is responsible and accountable for growth and development of USATF and track and field as a major sport. Develop USATF's short and long-term operating plans consistent with the overall strategic plan and designed to grow revenues and move the USATF on an accelerated growth path.

Communication. Solicits input and perspective on key issues and projects and is an active listener who builds consensus and finds the common ground in resolving issues. Keeps the board, volunteer constituencies and staff informed and up to date on important issues and developments in a productive, give-and-take manner and follows through on commitments. Deals effectively with the media.

Results. Responsible for leading the sales effort and the team in the acquisition, maintenance, and retention of sponsors. Sell at high levels; coordinate the advertising, promotion, and public relations activities to assure growth of the USATF brand and the sport of track and field. Develop marketing strategies that consider USATF as a whole as well as the promotion of specific events and athletes. Directs and coordinates business activities, costs, operations, and forecast data to determine progress toward stated goals and objectives. Sets and meets budgets that reflect tough choices and financial constraints. Knows how to creatively use all the talent available to leverage the staff and volunteers.

Experience Requirements:
  • Previous CEO/President or comparable experience preferred.
  • Minimum 10 years executive level corporate executive experience and a track record of growth and success where best practices are utilized with significant business management and strategy development experience.
  •  Minimum 5 years sports marketing, joint venture, licensing, sponsor relationship experience whereby the person understands the way the sports industry operates today as well as in the rapidly changing new media world.

For information on candidacy submissions, contact Kimberly Blackwell of PMM Agency: [email protected]

For biographies of CEO Search Committee members, visit

About USA Track & Field

USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, the World's #1 Track & Field Team, the most-watched events at the Olympics, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport, and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States:

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